The Indian Sports Ministry issued revised Standard Operating Procedures on Sunday and confirmed that outdoor sporting stadiums in the country will be allowed to operate at 50% spectator capacity. The ministry also confirmed that a COVID Task Force will be constituted for each sporting competition.
In what comes as cheerful news for the Indian general public in times of despair, The Sports Ministry, in the revised Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) issued on Sunday, confirmed that outdoor sporting stadiums in India will be allowed to operate with 50% spectator capacity. This is the biggest step yet taken by the Indian government in its quest to resume sporting activities in the country, as the announcement could mean that crowds could return to stadiums as early as January 2021.
The Indian Super League (ISL) – which is currently being held behind closed doors – is the only major sporting event that has been staged since the pandemic outbreak, and not since March have spectators been allowed to enter stadiums.
“The spectators at the sporting event would be in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. For outdoor events, spectators will be allowed up to 50%of the total capacity of the stadium,” read the circular issued by the Sports Ministry.
“CCTV monitoring may be planned for larger events to detect over-crowding at entry and exit gates and seating areas.
“The sports competitions may resume, provided no orders of the local authorities prohibit such facilities to resume operation i.e. micro-containment zones and are meant to serve as safety guidelines for organizing the sports competition in consonance with any other guidelines issued by the State Government while granting such permission.”
The ministry also confirmed that a COVID Task Force will be constituted for each sporting competition. This Task Force, according to the circular, will guide and monitor athletes and support personnel, who are expected to undergo RT-PCR Tests 72 hours prior to the event and return a negative result in order to be allowed to participate.
“A COVID Task Force shall be constituted for each sporting competition by the organizing committee to guide and monitor all Athletes and Athlete Support Personnel (ASPs). This Task Force shall be responsible for the overall implementation of protocols outlines in this SOP and other directions issued by the MHA and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare from time to time.
“Depending on the risk perception and the scale of events, the organizing committee may consider making RT-PCR Testing of athletes and ASPs carried out within 72 hours prior to the event. Only those having negative RT-PCT report shall be allowed to participate in the event.”
While it remains to be seen if the ISL will start allowing spectators, this announcement, however, could mean that the forthcoming series between India and England (Cricket), scheduled for February, could see the return of international cricket and spectators coinciding. The tour is set to kick-off with the Test series on February 5, and, as per the current guidelines, it could mean that the Chepauk and the Motera Stadium could host 25,000 and 55,000 fans at the venue respectively.